Tag Archive | cheese

Mexican Mac & Cheese


Tidbits: There are probably more varieties of Mac & Cheese than anyone could count, so why not add another to the list? The inspiration comes from Scott’s love for Mexican and Italian food. So I took a basic mac and cheese recipe and Mexified it.

  1. To unmexify this (which is what I do for Thanksgiving) take out the chili powder, poblano and red pepper, and mexican cream. Do everything else the same. If you do unmexify this, I definitely recommend adding broccoli to the recipe. Cook the broccoli florets with the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  2. You don’t have to use the cheeses listed. If you prefer a different combo, have at it.
  3. For a healthier option, you can use whole wheat pasta and milk and cheeses with a lower fat content (and nix the cream). Note that the sauce will be a bit thinner with low fat milk.

Ingredients:

1 lb macaroni elbows or corkscrew pasta

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 poblano pepper, chopped (make sure you get the ribs and seeds out if you don’t want a lot of heat)

1 red pepper, chopped

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

2 cups whole milk

1/8 cup Mexican cream (this ingredient is not necessary if you can’t find it/don’t have it)

1 cup vegetable broth

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup bread crumbs (these are also not necessary, but always yummy)

Salt & Pepper (freshly ground, not that shaker stuff!)

Directions:

  1. Mentally prepare yourself for multi-tasking. There’s a lot going on at once, but it’s ok if things finish early/late . It’s all getting mixed together at the end.
  2. Cook pasta as directed (but check the Tips & Tricks page for some advice on this)
  3. In the mean time, heat large saute pan over medium heat and add oil.  Chop the onion (fairly small pieces), poblano pepper, red pepper, and  garlic, then cook in this pan for ~ 5 minutes. Add a few dashes of the seasonings that you are going to use later for a little more flavor.
  4. Heat medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  5. Now for the roux (which will thicken your sauce, so this is important!).  Add butter to the sauce pan and melt. Then add the flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Whisk until roux bubbles and cook for about a minute.
  6. Whisk milk, broth, and Mexican cream into the roux raise the stove to high heat until it’s boiling. Watch closely because the milk will boil fast and wildly! Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt.
  8. Combine drained pasta, cheese,  veggies and plenty of salt & pepper in a 9×13 pan (use a non-stick pan or cooking spray for easy cleaning)
  9. You could eat this now if you’re really hungry! Or…move on to step 10.
  10. Sprinkle some bread crumbs on top and bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes.
  1. Mentally prepare yourself for multi-tasking. There’s a lot going on at once, but it’s ok if things finish early/late . It’s all getting mixed together at the end.
  2. Cook pasta as directed (but check the Tips & Tricks page for some advice on this)
  3. In the mean time, heat large saute pan over medium heat and add oil.  Chop the onion (fairly small pieces), poblano pepper, red pepper, and  garlic, then cook in this pan for ~ 5 minutes. Add a few dashes of the seasonings that you are going to use later for a little more flavor.
  4. Heat medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  5. Now for the roux (which will thicken your sauce, so this is important!).  Add butter to the sauce pan and melt. Then add the flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Whisk until roux bubbles and cook for about a minute.
  1. Whisk milk, broth, and Mexican cream into the roux raise the stove to high heat until it’s boiling. Watch closely because the milk will boil fast and wildly! Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  1. Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt.
  2. Combine drained pasta, cheese,  veggies and plenty of salt & pepper in a 9×13 pan (use a non-stick pan or cooking spray for easy cleaning)
  3. You could eat this now if you’re really hungry! Or…move on to step 10.
  1. Sprinkle some bread crumbs on top and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.
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Paneer – As Thanks to The Picky Vegetarian


I’m posting this for The Picky Vegetarian, who set this site up. So this recipe is for paneer, which is a cheese used in Indian cuisine as a meat substitute. I like it better than tofu, because cheese >> soy. Long story short, it’s fresh, protein-packed, delicious, and pretty easy to make. You can batter and  fry it prior to adding it to stews, curries, etc. Or you can just chop it into blocks and add it to any vegetable dish.

Tools:
Big ol’ pot
Cheese cloth
Colander
Something heavy (cast iron frying pan, with stuff on top, your cat or guinea pig, get creative!)

Ingredients:
1 Gallon of Milk (I like using whole milk)
1 quart buttermilk (a lot of people like to use other food acids like lemon juice or vinegar, but I prefer buttermilk)

Method:
1. Pour gallon of milk into your big ol’ pot. Set heat to medium, and watch for it to boil.
– Make sure you watch it carefully! Once it starts to boil, it can easily boil over.

2. As soon as it starts to boil, add the buttermilk, stirring constantly. You can lower the heat/turn it off as you stir. You’ll notice that the curds will separate almost immediately as you stir.

3. Place the cheesecloth on the colander and pour the milk mixture through it. Save some of the separated liquid later for mixing (if the cheese is too crumbly)

4. Wait – a couple of hours with the milk sitting in the colander is fine. Its need to completely drain. At this point, though, you can go in two directions.

Option 1

5A. You can place the cheese cloth with the cheese in it on a flat surface. Then you can use your heavy stuff to somewhat flatten it into a sturdy brick (not…brick dimensions…more like the cheese block shape you can get in the grocery), which later you can cut up into pieces.
– The longer you keep it  compressed (2-3 hours), the firmer it will become. You get a softer cheese with less weight time (30 minutes)

OR

Option 2

5B. take the cheese from cheese cloth and knead it. Ok, who has time to knead things. Put that sucker in a food processor.
– Process until nice and smooth. It should start to form a ball if it’s the right consistency (kind of like a firmer ricotta cheese).
– If it’s too dry, take that liquid you saved earlier and add a little bit to it, until it’s just right.
6B. Once smooth, take it out, and knead and shape it into a ball shape (or into a cheese block shape!). You can wrap it in cling film and save it for later in the refrigerator.

7. Once your cheese is prepared, you can cut it up and add it as is, or you can deep fry it in canola oil (1 minute till it’s a pretty golden brown color) and add it to your stews/curries/concoctions/experiments.

Enjoy!